Miracles on 34th Street
Long after its heyday, New York's oldest surviving sleight-of-hand shop still draws die-hards to an unimaginative stretch of Midtown Manhattan.
The first thing David Ferst did was ask me for a quarter. To prove that he was working with just an ordinary quarter, he had me initial the coin with a Sharpie pen and memorize the date. (It was an Oklahoma 2008 state quarter.) I closed my hand around the coin, as instructed.
“I want you to concentrate on the coin,” he said, looking me in the eye. “When I count to three, the coin is going to get a little warmer. One, two, three. Do you feel it getting warmer?”
Was my palm getting warmer? Or was I just starting to sweat? He started talking faster.
“I’m going to move your heartbeat down your arm on the count of three. One, two, three. Isn’t that amazing?”
I did not feel any such thing, but decided to nod and play along.
“Open your hand. Did you see something happen? Look at the coin.”
Now for the reveal: my coin, the 2008 Oklahoma state quarter with my initials on it, was bent in half. Fine; now I was impressed.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial